Lessons & Units

Theme 4th Grade Unit


Lesson 1 Identifying Universal Themes Across Cultures Identify the universal theme of a story.Compare and contrast stories with the same universal theme.

Unit Extension Ideas

  • Have students read and identify themes in other On My Own Biographies such as:
    • Georgia O’Keeffe by Linda Lowery
    • Daniel Boone by Tom Streissguth
    • Laura Ingalls Wilder by Ginger Wadsworth
    • Jackie Robinson by Sally M. Walker
    • Helen Keller by Jane Sutcliffe
    • Aunt Clara Brown: Official Pioneer by Linda Lowery
    • Wilma Rudolf by Victoria Sherrow
    • Booker T. Washington by Thomas Amper
    • George Washington Carver by Andy Carter and Carol Saller
    • Pablo Picasso by Linda Lowery
  • Have students compare and contrast books they have read with similar universal themes using a Venn diagram. For example, students can compare and contrast Tuck Everlasting to Charlotte’s Web and discuss how the universal theme of death is presented. (See Additional Activity A in Teacher and Student Materials below.)
  • Students may compare and contrast themes in Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis to themes in biographies of people alive during that time period (such as Jesse Owens or Amelia Earhart).
  • Compare and contrast universal themes from stories from different cultures:
    • Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories compiled by Florence Sakade
    • Filipino Children’s Favorite Stories retold by Liana Romulo
    • Indian Children’s Favorite Stories retold by Rosemarie Somaiah
  • Have students write two different stories with the same universal theme (for example: courage).
  • Have students write a story with a universal theme and exchange it with a partner. The partner can read the story, identify the theme, and underline the text that supports the theme.
  • Universal themes can also be found in movies. Students can watch movies and compare universal themes in movies to those in literature.

More Books for Teaching Theme

Through My Eyes
Enemies of Slavery
Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez
You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton?
The Rough-Face Girl
The Courage of Sarah Noble

User Comments

Wonderful selection of books with lexile. Thanks!

Wonderful choices of books with lexile

Awesome Passages. Thank you for the help.